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2016 Symposium Bios

Marty Ahrens

Marty Ahrens, Senior Manager, Fire Analysis Services in the Fire Analysis and Research Division of the National Fire Protection Association came to NFPA in 1997 after 11 years as the Research Analyst/Fire Incident Reporting System Coordinator in the Massachusetts State Marshal’s office. In addition to her managerial responsibilities at NFPA, she also analyzes fire data to provide national estimates of various aspects of the fire problem.  She has written reports about home fires, smoke alarms, cooking fires, candle fires, vehicle fires, and fires in various occupancies, as well as chapters in several NFPA publications.  She also collaborates regularly with other national fire data analysts.

Marty has an MSW from Boston University and a BA in Psychology from the University of Connecticut.

Meri-K Appy

Meri-K Appy is a leader in fire and life safety education with a proven track record in creating and implementing effective injury prevention initiatives. Appy specializes in simplifying safety messages, concepts and strategies for greatest impact, especially for audiences at highest risk.

Appy served as Vice President for Public Education at NFPA from 1989 – 2003, as President of the Home Safety Council from 2003- 2010, and as President of Safe Kids USA until December, 2011.  Now head of her own consulting company, she is a member of the Vision 20/20 Executive Committee and facilitates the Strategy 2 task group, working with the team that created the new Fire Safety Materials Generator. Appy is also Project Manager for Sound Off with the Home Fire Safety Patrol, an exciting new school-based program from the National Center for Fatality Review & Prevention  (NCFRP).  Funded by Fire Prevention and Safety Grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/FEMA, Sound Off delivers smoke alarm education and installation to high-risk Grade 2 students and their families with, with documented success.

Appy serves on the IAFC Fire and Life Safety Section Board and on the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy Advisory Committee.

Tim Behlings

Tim has served the South Dakota fire service for 34 years beginning in 1982 as a volunteer firefighter in Custer, which remains his home. His career has progressed to include positions as a South Dakota Deputy State Fire Marshal, State Inspector (1990-1999) and with the Rapid City Fire Department (1999-present). The last 17 years have been spent in the Rapid City Fire Department Fire and Life Safety Division conducting Inspections, Plan Reviews, Code development, Training and Investigations. In 2009 he was promoted to Division Chief / Fire Marshal.  He is recognized as a non-typical Fire Marshal, encouraging creative out of the box solutions to meet the objectives of adopted codes and standards. His philosophy places a greater emphasis on educating and problem solving verses enforcement activities. Being a stanch community risk reduction and fire sprinkler advocate has given Tim the opportunity of allowing Rapid City’s experiences to be shared across the State of South Dakota, to include testimony before the South Dakota Legislature.  Promoting public safety has been a passion and not just a job for Tim, wife Jenny of 29 years and their two sons.

Karen Berard-Reed

Karen Berard-Reed works in the public education division of the National Fire Protection Association as a senior project manager and oversees NFPA’s high-risk outreach public education activities, with a focus on safety for young children, older adults, and underserved communities.  Karen has 20 years of experience in the prevention field working in K-12 public schools, higher education, and community settings. She is also an instructor at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland

Lauren Brookins

Lauren is a Captain with the Brighton Area Fire Authority and is a 14 year veteran with the department.  She is the departments Community Risk Reduction Specialist and responsible for Public Fire Education as well as serving as a training coordinator for the Community Awareness programs.

She is a State of Michigan certified Firefighter II, Michigan Certified Fire Officer III, NFPA Certified Fire Inspector, a certified Train the trainer for the American Health and Safety Institute programs.

She is an active member of the Michigan Fire Inspectors Society where she serves on their Statewide Smoke Alarm Campaign, Public Fire Education Committee, and planning committee.

Zach Cahalan

Mr. Cahalan is the Director, Major Preparedness Initiatives, for the American Red Cross. He provides leadership, strategic direction, and program administration to the organization’s efforts to implement major preparedness initiatives and projects such as the Home Fire Campaign.

During the course of his career, he has served in multiple disaster relief operations throughout the United States, including Hurricane Sandy. He has held several roles within the organization through seven years of service and has a strong background in emergency management, program design, and evaluation.

Zach Cahalan earned his B.S. in Education from Central Michigan University and his M.A. in International Development Administration from Western Michigan University. He is additionally enrolled the Red Cross LEAD program, a focused Executive Leadership Development Program through the American Red Cross.

Jim Crawford

Jim Crawford is the project manager for Vision 20/20.  He is a member of and former chair of the NFPA technical committee on professional qualifications for fire marshals.  He is the author of Fire Prevention Organization and Management published by Brady and writes a monthly column on fire and life safety for Fire and Rescue Magazine.  Jim retired from the active fire service after 35 years, ending his career as the Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal of Vancouver, WA.  He is a fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers, past President of the International Fire Marshal’s Association, and a life member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.  Jim has been awarded the R. Wayne Powell Excellence in Fire Prevention Award; the Fire Protection Person of the Year in 2011 from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers; the Dr. Anne W. Phillips Leadership in Fire Safety Education award from the International Fire Service Training Association and the Congressional Fire Services Institute; and the Percy Bugby Award from the International Fire Marshal’s Association.

Angela Donn

Angela Donn is a Program Specialist with the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office – and is in charge of the County’s periodic fire inspection “Risk Check” program.  Prior to working for the Fire Marshal she spent two years working for the County’s Building Department as inspection coordinator, records and administrative specialist. Angela has a degree in Legal Assistance and holds a yellow belt in Lean Process Management.

Sandy Facinoli

Sandy Facinoli is the Chief of the Prevention and Information Branch, United States Fire Administration. Her branch is responsible for leading the Fire is Everyone’s Fight ™ national initiative involving partners from across the United States.  Her team manages  the USFA website and social media program, the National Emergency Training Center’s Library, the Publications and Media Production Centers, and the national network of fire marshals—PARADE.  The branch also manages the USFA conference/xhibit program, the campus fire safety program, the Hotel/Motel Master List of lodging properties that meet fire safety requirements, the Prevention and Public Education Exchange, and the Fighting Fire on Federal Property Reimbursement Program.  They provide liaison for USFA with  national organizations involved in fire and life safety including Vision 20/20, the National Volunteer Fire Council, the National Association of State Fire Marshals, the American Red Cross, the Council for Disaster Education (American Red Cross), the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, and Vision 20/20.

Before joining the USFA, Sandy worked at the US Department of Agriculture in senior positions in the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the National Agricultural Library, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.  She was also the director of Cooperative Extension Service offices in suburban and rural Maryland and was a public school teacher.  She holds a Master of Science degree and lives in Frederick, Maryland with her husband, Robert Graham.

Andrea Gielen

Andrea C. Gielen, ScD, ScM is Professor and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. Before coming to Hopkins, she worked as a community health educator for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Gielen’s work focuses on creating community and clinic-based programs to reduce home injuries, including those caused by fire and burns. She is currently evaluating a mobile app that teaches families about home fire safety and car seat safety. A recently completed study demonstrated the added benefit to fire departments of partnering with community health workers to deliver home safety education, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms. With a team of collaborators, Dr. Gielen created the Children’s Safety Center in the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.  Families receive personalized, free safety education and low cost safety product, and it is a model program that has been replicated by children’s hospitals around the country. In partnership with the Baltimore City Fire Department a mobile safety center was created. It is a 40-foot truck outfitted like a home environment, with interactive educational exhibits that brings lifesaving information, low cost safety products, and free smoke alarms to the community.

Steve Hrustich

Chief Hrustich is a 31 year veteran of the fire service and currently serves as the Assistant Chief overseeing the Community Risk Reduction Division of Gwinnett

County Fire and Emergency Services in the metro Atlanta area.  He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and a dual designate as a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) and Fire Marshal (FM) from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. He holds a MS in Executive Fire Leadership from Grand Canyon University and a BS in Computer Science/Mathematics and AS in Fire Science both from Binghamton University.  Chief Hrustich is an instructor and course developer for the fire prevention and leadership curriculum at the NFA.  He also serves on the IAFC Fire & Life Safety Section board and is the IAFC representative on the correlating committee for the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code.  Chief Hrustich works closely with Vision 2020 as a CRR technical advisor and member of the Community Risk Reduction Leadership Team promoting CRR advocacy across the U.S. fire service.

Bruce Johnson

Bruce Johnson is a currently a Senior Regulatory Engineer in UL’s Codes and Advisory Services Department.

Bruce previously worked for the International Code Council (ICC), heading up their national fire service activities program.

Bruce is also an Adjunct College Instructor at SUNY Empire State College instructing in the areas of emergency management, ire department administration, fire investigation, fire prevention, community risk reduction and fire protection structures and systems.  He has extensive expertise in building construction and fire prevention codes, code and standard development and code administration.  Bruce has instructed numerous courses on topics of fireground operations, fire officer development, fire protection systems and code administration.

Bruce served seventeen years as a Deputy Chief – Fire Instructor at the Suffolk County Fire Academy, retiring in 2015.  Bruce was also a NYS Certified Code Enforcement Official and Fire Marshal for Riverhead Township.

Bruce earned a Bachelor degree in Fire Service Administration from Empire state College; Bachelor degree in Accounting from Dowling College and a

Howard Lagomarsino

Howard Lagomarsino has served in public safety for over 30 years and filled a variety of Operational, Administrative, Training and Community Risk Reduction functions within the fire service and law enforcement communities. These roles included Firefighter, Emergency Medical Technician, Police Officer, Detective, Police Sergeant, Hazardous Materials Technician, Driver Operator, Lieutenant, Training Officer, Advisor, Assistant Fire Marshal, Fire Marshal, Assistant Chief and Division Chief.

Training/experience included Fire Officer (NFPA 1021), Fire Investigator (NFPA 1033), Virginia Law Enforcement Officer, Forensics, Fire Inspector (NFPA 1031), Fire & Life Safety Educator (NFPA 1035), Fire Instructor (NFPA 1041), Firefighter (NFPA 1001) Emergency Medical Technician, Hazardous Materials Technician (NFPA 472), WMD/CBRNE, Environmental Crimes, Incident Command (ICS), Leadership, Management, HPO, Strategic Planning, Virginia Tech Master’s Certificate – Public Administration-Local Government Management.

Howard’s is currently assigned as a Division Chief for the Albemarle County Fire Rescue Department in Charlottesville, Virginia. His responsibilities included the role of Fire Marshal/Fire Official for the County analyzing needs, establishing Community Risk Reduction initiatives system wide, establishing a culture focused on proactive operations versus reactive response and reporting directly to Chief and Deputy Chief. Howard has served in this role since 2011.

Mary McCoy

Mary McCoy is one of the original staff members of the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas.  She joined the Center as a data analyst in 1994.  She is responsible for data collecting, evaluation and financial management of the center. Mary also coordinates Operation Installation, smoke alarm installation program with the Dallas Fire Department. She holds a Master in Public Health from University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

Pat Mieszala

Patricia Mieszala, RN, National Fire & Life Safety Consultant and Education Services, Burbank, CA.   A native of Chicago, Pat has 45 years of experience and national-international recognition in the areas of psychiatry, burn care, rehabilitation, prevention, fire/life safety, youth firesetting and injury prevention.  She served on the Vision 20/20 Steering Committee (2009-2012) and currently, is a Technical Advisor to Vision 20/20 having assisted in the development/revision of materials, and as an instructor for the one day “Evaluation and Performance Measures”; and “Community Risk Reduction” classes.  Pat is NFPA’s Education Section Executive Board Past Chair, and also serves on NFPA’s Educational Messages Advisory Committee and on the NFPA 1035 Standard Technical Committee.  Her ongoing work and focus on youth firesetting, burn awareness and prevention continues through current IAFF AFG Grant projects.  She has a long standing history as a public education course developer and instructor for the National Fire Academy, and U.S. Fire Administration initiatives related to youth firesetting.  Her work has taken her to all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and most Canadian provinces.  Among her many recognitions, Pat is the recipient of the Home Safety Council and Congressional Fire Services Institute, 2009  Dr. Anne Phillips Leadership in Public Fire Safety Education Award.

Lori Moore-Merrell

Dr. Moore-Merrell is an Assistant to the President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Her expertise is in emergency response system design, staffing and deployment of mobile resources, system performance measurement and evaluation. She as managed emergency response system evaluation teams, including geographic information systems (GIS) analysis, in more than 500 fire departments throughout North America.

Lori’s experience and educational background includes 7 years of service as a fire/paramedic with the City of Memphis. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology and a Doctor of Public Health degree in Quality Performance Measurement from The George Washington University School of Public Health.

She has been awarded the James O. Page Achievement award by the EMS Section of the IAFC, the IAFC President’s Award for commitment to firefighter safety, the Dr. John Granito Award for Excellence in Fire Leadership and Management Research, and the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs President’s Award of Distinction.

Dr. Moore-Merrell has served as co-principal investigator on a series of research projects, funded by DHS, Assistance to Firefighters Grants to develop tools to be used by local fire department officials to assess community risks/hazards and plan resource deployment based on those risks. The Multiphase Study on Firefighter Safety and Deployment of Resources spans more than 10 years of research and has so far contributed four landmark reports and associated materials to the fire service industry.

Jim Resnick

Jim Resnick serves as Program Manager for Senior Outreach and Education, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.  Jim is a retired Battalion Fire Chief for Montgomery County with nearly 40 years of combined experience as a career and volunteer firefighter and paramedic.  In his current role, Jim provides educational programs for seniors on topics including fire and injury prevention and he provides comprehensive outreach programs including home safety checks.  The goal of these efforts is to reduce the incidence of preventable injuries and illnesses that result in 911 calls from Montgomery County’s senior citizens.  Through the Senior Outreach and Education program Jim has done over 500 home safety checks for seniors, ensuring that they have working smoke detectors and a realistic fire escape plan as part of a comprehensive “safety check up”.  Jim is a graduate of the University of Maryland – Baltimore County with a BA in Geography.   He lives in Montgomery County with his wife and one of his three sons (the other two are off to college – yeah!).

Greg Rogers

Greg Rogers is the Fire Marshal for Spokane Valley Fire Department, in Spokane Valley, Washington.  Greg has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering Technology- Fire Protection and Safety, and is currently working on a Masters Degree in Fire Emergency Management Administration, through Oklahoma State University.

Greg has been in the fire service for 24 years, starting as an instructor  in 1992 at the Oklahoma State Fire Service Training Center, in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  His previous experience includes Fire Prevention Manager for the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, and a Fire Safety Engineer with North Metro Fire Rescue in Broomfield, Colorado. Also sever as Peer reviewer for the CPSE and assigned to reimagining group for the next phase of CPSE.

Greg has developed and taught several courses in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, including International Fire Code classes, Fire Company Officer Inspection classes, as well as Basic Understanding of the Fire Code and Basic Fire Investigations classes for Olympic College.

Steve Rucker

Steve Rucker is the Fire Marshal for the Sandusky Fire Department in Sandusky Ohio with 14 years in the fire service. Steve is certified by the State of Ohio as a Firefighter II, Basic EMT, and Fire Safety Inspector. He has served on a panel speaking on the “Engineering Solutions for Fire and Nuisance Alarms” at the Campus Safety Expo, Columbus Ohio. He spoke at the Ohio Fire Chief’s Conference on the value of a Vacant/Abandoned commercial registration ordinance.  He was instrumental in the development of local vacant building legislation and is responsible for the administration of the Vacant/Abandoned commercial registration program He has attended a Basic Fire Investigation course through the Bowling Green State University-Fire School. Steve has also completed the Origin and Cause curriculum at the National Fire Academy. He works closely with the Sandusky Law Department, Commercial and Residential Code Enforcement in the development of legislation and policy. He believes that the fire service must be proactive in its risk assessment processes, allowing us to responsibly utilize our resources.

Derrick Sawyer

Serving as Fire Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD), Derrick Sawyer is a 30 year veteran who heads the 5th largest fire and emergency services department in the country.  Since entering the PFD in 1985, Fire Commissioner Sawyer has developed in-depth experience as a first-responder amidst an urban landscape that demands diversity in skill, critical training, and keen analytical decision making.  Over 2100 members are under his command.

With a passion for educating the community on the merits of safety and preparedness, he has become a sought after public speaker and revels in the challenge at hand.  Over the past decade Fire Commissioner Sawyer has traveled the globe to educate diverse communities on the effectiveness of Community Risk Reduction, prevention and fire & life safety education.

Fire Commissioner Sawyer has augmented his academic accomplishments by graduating from the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute and obtaining certifications as Fire Officer IV, Fire Instructor II, Fire Inspector, Hazardous Material Technician, and Firefighter II. He holds an Associate Degree in Fire Science from Community College of Philadelphia, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Safety Administration from Holy Family University, and a Master’s of Science Degree in Homeland Security from Saint Joseph’s University

Jennifer Shaw

Jennifer Shaw, professionally known as “Jas,” is a certified paralegal with 11 years of experience working in the legal field. In September 2012, she became the Shasta Youth/Peer Court Coordinator working with Youth Violence Prevention Council. Jas is responsible for the Program from intake through the court process and actively manages over fifty juvenile cases.

Jas is trained in Level I&II Youth Fire-Setter Prevention & Intervention by the NFA & FEMA as well certified in recognizing Youth Fire-setting and Bomb Making. She received the Civilian Award of Exemplary Action for her selfless contribution in assisting the Fire Service community and is considered a specialist in the field
In 2007, Jas and her daughter survived a serious structure fire that left them in the burn unit of two separate hospitals for over three weeks.  After months of physical therapy and counseling, the burns healed, Jas was ready to go back to work.

Jas now shares their story of survival through her work as the co-founder of the Youth Fire-setter Prevention and Intervention Program in partnership with the Shasta Arson Task force. This program evaluates youth and their families

Victor Stagnaro

Victor Stagnaro joined the staff of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in early 2010.  He serves as the Director of Fire Service Programs, which includes the Everyone Goes Home®, the Local Assistance State Teams and the Taking Care of Our Own programs and courses.  Victor’s involvement with the NFFF dates back to 1998, when he served as the Incident Commander for the Memorial Weekend, a post he held for several years.  He also assisted with the Foundations New York Response Team on 9/11.  Prior to be hired by the NFFF, he worked for the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department.  In addition to having served as a firefighter and station officer, he has been a fire instructor, Public Information Officer, Battalion Chief, Executive Officer to the Fire Chief, Fire Marshal, and Operations Shift Chief, Victor served as the Deputy Chief of Emergency Operations prior to his departure from the department in 2010.  He authored a chapter in Fire Engineering‘s Handbook for Firefighter I and II on EMS in the Fire Service.

Cina Sunderhaus

Cina is the Fire Marshal of Chandler, AZ and manages all aspects of the Fire Prevention Division including inspection, fire investigation and education programs.  Native to Arizona, Cina has been in public safety since 1990 serving in a variety of capacities; firefighter, law enforcement officer, assistant fire marshal and fire marshal for several agencies including the US Forest Service, Mesa Fire & Medical Department and Chandler Fire, Health & Medical. Cina holds a BS from Arizona State University and a Master of Leadership from Grand Canyon University. She is an active committee member of the Arizona State Fire Training Committee (ASFTC), three National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) technical committees, the National Fallen Firefighters Arizona Local Assistance State Team (AZ LAST) and an executive board member of the Arizona Fire Marshals Association (AFMA). Cina owns a consulting business and in her down time enjoys remodeling her historic bungalow in Prescott, AZ, spending times with friends (especially those that tell good jokes and make her laugh) and traveling.

Chris Switala

Chris Switala

Christopher Switala is a Lieutenant with the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department in Pittsburgh, PA.  He has over 29 years of career and volunteer fire service experience, and has been with the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department since 2001.  In addition to suppression responsibilities, Christopher is currently assigned to Community Outreach and Special Operations, and previously served as Fire Inspector.

Christopher has a B.S. in Fire Service Administration from the State University of New York, and a B.S. in Chemistry from John Carroll University.  He holds numerous professional certifications, including Fire Officer II, Fire Investigator, Fire Inspector III, Plans Examiner II, Fire Instructor I, Hazardous Materials Commander, and Paramedic

Nancy Trench

Nancy J. Trench is the Assistant Director at Fire Protection Publications, the publisher of IFSTA training materials, at Oklahoma State University where she has worked for almost 40 years.

Mrs. Trench is recognized nationally as a leader in fire and life safety education. Her expertise includes programs for those at highest risk for home fire deaths and injuries: young children and people with disabilities. She is an advocate for partnerships to build effective risk reduction programs. Mrs. Trench received the second annual Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education from The Home Safety Council in 2008.

Mrs. Trench formerly managed the state fire training system in Oklahoma. She has experience designing and delivering training and certification programs for the fire and emergency response community.

Nancy served as an appointed member of the Board of Visitors for the National Fire Academy, an elected member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Board of Directors, and A Trustee for the Learn Not to Burn Foundation. She currently serves as the chair of the NFPA 1035, standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire and Life Safety Educator, Public Information Officer and Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Specialist. She is an alumnus of OSU in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology.

Nancy is active with Vision 20/20, National Strategies for Fire Loss Prevention.

Gary West

Chief Gary West has been the Tennessee State Fire Marshal since 2011 and has served his entire career in public service dedicated to helping others. He has been active in emergency services for the past 40 years with extensive experience in fire, EMS and law enforcement. His vast knowledge and passion for saving lives through fire prevention efforts have made him a leader and visionary for reducing deaths, injuries and property loss from fire.

Chief West’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He holds many professional certifications including Chief Code Analyst, certified building and fire inspector, fire investigator, EMS administrator, instructor trainer and hazardous materials specialist. Chief West is also a graduate of the Tennessee Government Executive Institute, serves as vice-chair on the International Code Council Fire Membership Committee, serves on the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Fire Chief’s Association and is a on the Board of Directors for the National Association of State Fire Marshals.

Sara Wood

Living in rural Kansas, Sara Wood grew up in the Fire Service alongside her volunteer firefighter dad. As an adult, she gained a background in law enforcement and serves both sides of Public Safety to this day. She started out at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, serving in positions related to the Criminal Justice Information System. In 2013, Sara moved to the Office of the State Fire Marshal where she uses her background across the state to help fire departments better understand and utilize the information at hand, similar to crime analysis. During the last 2 years, she’s focused on learning data science for better applications and data visualization to help spread prevention information. Sara makes her home near Topeka, KS with two young daredevil kids, a pack of canines, and her firefighter husband.